Down Memory Lane - Life in Hadleigh Earlier This Century, From the Diary of Eddie Botwright

Down Memory Lane - Life in Hadleigh Earlier This Century, From the Diary of Eddie Botwright

Full title: 'Down Memory Lane - Life in Hadleigh earlier this century from the Diary of Eddie Botwright 1898-1985, edited by Colin Bull'

Published privately by Colin Bull, no date given. 88 pages. Small rectangular paperback - c.15cm by 20.5cm (A6RWSOX1)

From the introduction by Colin Bull: My memories of Eddie and Babs Botwright are from 1947 when I came to live in Hadleigh. I knew him first as a client, and eventually as a friend. I soon realised that Eddie was a man gifted with many artistic talents. He endeavoured to pass on to me some of his skills, but not always successfully.

An early recollection is of his efforts to teach me the art of photo tinting. Before the days of colour photography, a black and white photograph could be tinted to make a good colour photograph. The art was to tint lightly, but my efforts usually produced an over coloured picture, and I was thankful when eventually I could use colour film.

Another side line of Eddies was picture framing, and again he was able to produce a good finished product, and his services were used by many people. When he eventually gave up the work because of advancing years, he gave me the tools of his trade, and also a few lessons, but I haven't made any use of them.

In his spare time Eddie was mainly engaged in his favourite hobby of photography. His kitchen was his dark room, and he could be seen out and about with one of his cameras in all weathers and seasons. Hadleigh is indebted to him for preserving features of the town which were about to be lost, and he has contributed much to twentieth century local history.

Music was another accomplishment, and was all self taught. He could play the mouth organ well and also the chromatic accordion. These tal­ents were used in local entertainment, and he was always in demand at Christmas parties in Angel Court, and the annual old people's party, where he led the audience in community singing. An unusual instrument in his possession was a knee organ, and his is the only one I have come across. It is like a piano accordion but much bigger. It was too big be hand held for playing" and the peiformer sits on a chair with the instrument on his knee, hence its name. It was given to Eddie by his elder brother John, and I have a photograph of John playing it.

The sad day came when due to arthritic fingers Eddie could no longer play this instrument, and I was invited to 83 Angel Street to play it to him. He insisted that on his death I was to have all these musical instruments, and instructions to this end were placed'in their respective boxes. He was keen to preserve the things that he had acquired, and he knew that I shared his concern, and would look after them.

One offer he made to me during the early years of our friendship was to sell to me a plate camera, complete with rising front. He wanted £10 for it which was a lot of money in those days to a young man bringing up a family, and I regretfully declined the offer. That camera today would be worth quite a lot, as well as being a valuable and interesting museum piece. We would all do things differently if we could see ahead!

Eddie's talents also included model making. Once he made a large dolls house all fitted out with miniature furniture. It was a real work of art, and was eventually auctioned, with the proceeds going to the Red Cross. Another time he made a fairly large model of a gypsy caravan, which once again was very well made. He writes of these enterprises in his memoirs.

It is nearly ten years since he died, and during those years I have felt the urge to publish, and at last I have taken the plunge, hoping that memo­ries are rekindled in older people, and that young people will understand some of the ways of life, and the hardships of men and women earlier this century, as they lived through stringent times, and two world wars.

Babs meanwhile had hobbies of her own, in which she was just as accomplished. She was a good needle woman, and her embroidery was excellent. She once made a 'Kermit' doll for my small grandson, and he used to think that 83 Angel Street was the house where Kermit lived. Oil painting was another hobby in which she excelled. Babs could speak perfectly in the Suffolk dialect, and on occasions entertained the school children by speaking 'Suffolk' to them.

Eddie recorded his memories, and Babs the Suffolk dialect, on tape. We had several sessions in their home, which were accompanied by much laughter. It was difficult to prevent Eddie from speaking faster and faster as he read from his diary. I still have those recordings, but sadly they are not very good.

Eddie often said that he wanted me to have his collection of photographs that he had taken and acquired, upon his death. He wanted them pre­served and looked after. One day, several years before he died, he said to me, "I want you to take my photographic collection now, and not wait until I 'tun my toes up'. If I wait until then, someone might throw them away not realising their value." The collection has been with me ever since, and has been used in various exhibitions, and some are included in my book 'Hadleigh in Old Picture Postcards'. I have made arrangements for them to be preserved and passed on when my time comes to 'tun my toes up'. It took me sometime before I decided to publish these memories, not knowing if they would be of general interest. Yet I felt that such a wealth of memories of life from the beginning of the twentieth century in a small country town ought to be available to the public. I found it fascinat­ing to read, and I hope that others will too. The original diary is hand written in two hard backed note books, and Eddie gave these to me hand written in two hard backed note books, and Eddie gave these to me several years before his death. I feel that he knew his memories were worth publishing, and that I would do it, although nothing was ever said about it.

Eddie and Babs died within a month of each other in 1985. Babs was a semi invalid for some years. Eddie would push her around in her wheelchair. She died quite suddenly, but Eddie bravely carried on. Less than a month later he was admitted to hospital where he died. It seemed that without Babs, who had been all in all to him, that there was nothing left for him.

I have not altered the text. It is just as Eddie wrote it, except that I have divided it into paragraphs and have put in some headings. I trust that the diary, and the photographs that I have included give as much pleasure to the reader, as I have found in putting this book together.

The condition of the book is generally good. The cover has some minor scuffs, and light wear along the edges and corners (including creasing and bumping in the bottom right hand corner), but the spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and bound.